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October Books 5) Newman, Elgar and The Dream of Gerontius, by Percy M. Young

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Picked this University of Birmingham occasional paper from 1991 off the shelves, and digested it quickly. I am vaguely familiar with both Newman and Elgar, but I don't actually know The Dream of Gerontius very well; clearly I should try and get into it. The paper is a bit light on Newman, setting the writing of Gerontius in sequence with Newman's earlier work but without really explaining its importance. But it's very good on Elgar, looking at why he chose Gerontius and also at the difficulties he had in publication and production because of the strongly Catholic subject matter - an early performance at the Worcester festival only went ahead after Newman's text was altered on instruction from the local Anglican bishop, lest the good people of Worcester might start believing in Purgatory after listening to the piece. Anyway, I learned things from this and am also motivated to go and learn more.

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